#27 – Meet a Celebrity. And what about Rick Mercer?

My idea of meeting a celebrity is how I have always done it in the past.

SuzukiLike the time the family ran into Dr. David Suzuki at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. We loved his show, “The Nature of Things”. He wasn’t receptive to us talking to him especially after learning my husband worked for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He had a bee in his bonnet regarding some fishery and how the Department was handling the fish stock. That was the end of that infatuation.

GoldieAnother great encounter, was at the Blue Water Café in Vancouver. Goldie Hawn came in and sat at the table next to us. Of course I engaged in conversation and asked if she would join us on a girls bike trip. She had just finished a bike tour in France and her comment was “you have been eves dropping on my conversation”. I swore I hadn’t. It was such a coincidence. She giggled and we carried on for a bit until she learned that my husband was a biologist and engaged in a conversation with him. Wait a minute! Could you imagine a trip with her, the giggles and laughs!

Then there was the time I was coming around the grocery isle and literally ran into Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. Diana grew up in Nanaimo and was visiting for the holidays. She was pregnant and all I could say, “you make such a sweet couple”. Dah! Maybe if my husband had been with me, we would have had an interesting conversation.


Anyway, all to say that to date I have not run into any celebrities throughout my travels and day-to-day shopping and time is running out.

But…. I just recently received, from at least 5 friends, a notice that Rick Mercer (there he is!) coming to do a show at the Nanaimo Port Theatre. Tickets for the general public went on sale  today. I didn’t have to think twice about ordering them. The problem is I have to wait until April 6th.


I am posting this now because by December 10th the list has to be complete and the performance is being posted now so it counts. Rick is a Canadian comedian, television personality, political satirist and author. I have lots of time to prepare myself as to what I would say if I could get backstage to meet him. The VIP tickets have been sold out but I will find a way! No doubt I would mention how this whole blog started because he stood me up on my 60th. And I will bring my husband because somehow he generates conversation!

Note: All photos taken from internet


#7 – Host a Brunch

It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it provides energy and nutrients needed to start the day and can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight. I used to eat pie for breakfast, arguing with my Mom that is was no worse then having toast and jam. So much for nutrients and a healthy start, oops.

I love brunches because it’s breakfast and lunch at the same time and you can enjoy savory and sweet treats without feeling guilty. Family brunches were a monthly occurrence while living in Nova Scotia. Some picked themes and focused their brunch around that. One time in particular, my brother-in-law did Chinese. He took some doors of their hinges and cropped them up to form a low table. I remember the food being absolutely delicious.

My daughter loves to cook and is always finding new recipes. I asked her to give me ideas for the brunch we were hosting for the golfing crowd we play with. I ended up making all the recipes she suggested and was not disappointed, nor were the invitees.

  • Sweet potato egg cups
  • Savoury bread pudding
  • Ham with bourbon, maple and pecan glaze

I included a variety of cheeses; a blue Côte D’Azur, a white cheddar and a soft brie, along with a pineapple melon plate with plain yogurt and homemade granola. Oh! and let’s not forget tasty Mimosas.

Brunch Layout

I look at brunch as a long extended coffee break with friends in the comfort of your home.

#34 – Have “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress

Did you know that “Afternoon Tea” was started by the Duchess of Bedford in the 19th century? She had her chef prepare a little meal with tea to lessen a “sinking” feeling she would experience in the afternoon. Soon it became known as the British “Afternoon Tea”.

The Empress

The Empress Hotel Victoria BC

I was invited to an “Afternoon Tea” at the Empress Hotel in Victoria BC as a thank you for helping a friend. The Empress is a luxury hotel and renown for its “Afternoon Teas” enjoyed by royalty, celebrities and dignitaries.

The Ladies

An invite to “Afternoon Tea”

It was a simple yet elegant menu; a tower of delicate sandwiches, impressive confectionary and a plethora of tea choices. The fresh baked scones with strawberry jam and Empress cream were light, fluffy and delicious.


Setting, Tier, Tea

Considering the Empress was undergoing renovations, the Hotel managed to deliver a relaxed and entertaining afternoon. The setting was beautiful in the upper windowed foyer where every seat had a view of the harbor while an accomplished pianist played relaxing music. The 3hour Afternoon Tea was simply delightful!


We were spoiled to a delicious Prosecco that married well with dessert

I had an experience of a lifetime when I was in grade 10, a trip across Canada to Vancouver BC with our high school volleyball team. It was my first major travel experience. My mother arranged for me to meet her friend and I was invited for lunch. We went to a beautiful hotel in downtown Vancouver. I had never seen so many knives, forks and spoons at a table setting before and everyone was dressed to the nines. I followed Mrs. Bell Irving’s every move during the meal. All went well until the tea service came out.

The gentlemen server with white gloves, silver tray set with ornate tea pot, sugar cubes, brown sugar sticks, a choice of cream, milk in matching silver bowls, lemon wedges on a porcelain dish, fancy demi-tasses and dainty spoons were more than impressive. He approached me first so I dove in. Before he could ask, “Mademoiselle, what do you take in your tea?”, I grabbed a sugar cube, lemon wedge and a spot of milk and stirred everything in my tea. I knew right away I had done something wrong. The server cleared his throat and Mrs. Bell Irving held her laughter by pressing her finger to her lips. I watched the curdling come to the surface of the tea. If I stirred it, it went away. So, I drank the tea while simultaneously stirring with the spoon. And then put it down and replied, “I drink it like this all the time”.

I told this story to my Mom. She immediately picked up pen and paper. I drink my tea black now.

#22 – Ride a Zip Line

My husband didn’t want to join me on this one and neither did my daughter but my son-in-law was totally game and eager to try this out.

We arrived early which gave us time to walk around and take a good look at what Wild Play was all about. I was puzzled at first because I thought we were just going to ride zip lines. This was an obstacle course nestled high up in the trees. It reminded me of the “Amazing Race”.

Monkey Pants

Monkey pants


We were fitted with our Monkey Pants and given a learner course. You couldn’t move onto the actual course until you proved you knew how to stay safe. We passed with flying colors and off we went.


At first the obstacles were low to the ground and apparatus evenly spaced out. As we progressed, the obstacles became harder and more challenging as we climbed higher into the trees.


Navigating poles and slamming into cargo net

The zip lines were short and sweet at first but as we got higher they became longer and faster. What a thrill with arms extended, back and legs straight out, as you whizzed down the line. It helped to bend your knees slightly as you punched the safety bag on the platform to come to a stop.

Hanging on

Riding the zip line and hanging on

We completed the Classic Course and then proceeded to the Extreme Course – higher and harder. Not for the faint of heart. The logs swung more and were not as evenly spaced. The cargo nets were more challenging and the apparatus were such that you had to look down. Oh gosh! Yikes!


Obstacles on the Classic and Extreme courses


More obstacles

I was glad for the last zipline that brought us back to the base where it all started. I found the uneven logs spaced out vertically and horizontally the hardest. My son-in-law found the cargo nets the biggest rush. We both loved the challenge and the 2 hours it took to complete the courses went by like a flash.

The billboard advertised “Primal Fun and Games”. I think my son-in-law summed it up when he said, “I think primal is appropriate because you are exercising your inner monkey”. How true after playing on ladders, cargo nets, wobbly bridges and logs, riding the zip lines and swinging from the trees like Tarzan.

I had just completed the hike on Mount Benson where my quads were still sore from that experience, now my arms and core are sore. I guess that makes me a total sore package. Well worth it and we both would do it again!

#32 – Finish the West Wing Series

How do I tag this item as “finished” when on May 9th Netflix cancelled the series! Noooo!!! … What’s with that! I was so close to finishing the last episodes in the 7th season. I will never know how the characters’ lives unfold and how the story line ends. I delayed posting hoping they would bring it back, but alas, to no end.


Photo taken from Internet

It’s one of the disadvantages of Netflix – series come and go. On the positive side, there are many series to choose from and it is not uncommon to binge and watch 2-3 episodes in a row, commercial free when a series really catches your interest.

What I enjoyed most about the West Wing series was the various issues that pitted Republicans against Democrats and how relevant these were during previous presidencies. (The West Wing began in 1999). I can’t imagine working in such chaos and how anyone can get any work done when meetings are scheduled all day. Does the President ever sleep? Is there any privacy? And the Press!

I liked all the main characters and the actors that portrayed them;

  • Bartlet (Martin Sheen),
  • Josh (Bradley Whitford),
  • CJ (Allison Janney),
  • Leo (John Spencer),
  • Toby (Richard Shiff),
  • Donna (Janel Moloney),
  • Charlie (Dulé Hill),
  • Sam (Rob Lowe).

As in all series, characters come and go too. I was disappointed when Sam left, but his replacement Will (Joshua Molina) grew into the part and added new twists. I thought the introduction of Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) was brilliant and how his character came alive. I’m guessing he became the next president.



Photos taken from Internet

It was great to see so many episodes with guest appearances; Mathew Perry, John Goodman, Jane Lynch, Eric Stonestreet to name a few. In my opinion, the series had value and portrayed a realistic work and life environment in the West Wing. On a few occasions, the episode was a documentary format that included past presidents, press secretaries and senior staff. They elaborated on how the White House worked and how the series was very close to reality.

Politics has never been my thing. However, Americans have it right. After 2 consecutive runs of 4 years, the President has to step down. Not like in Canada. I find it hard to fathom the ongoing jostling for positions for the American Presidency that carries out year round. That’s a lot of money being spent on marketing yourself and campaigning.


#56 – Go Apple Picking

It is a true sign of fall when orchards are open to one and all to pick rich, ripe, juicy apples.

The vine

When our kids were young, apple picking was always a fall ritual. We would pack a picnic and head to either Nova Scotia to the Annapolis Valley or to the Cocagne area better known as the Pays de la Saquine in New Brunswick in search of the best apple orchards. Regardless of where we went the results were the same, exploring new places while on a road trip, picking apples, climbing trees, filling baskets and being outdoors in the warm fall sunshine. When family lived close by, it would be followed by a day of making pies and freezing them for the winter.

When I put this on my list, I had no idea where I would pick apples on Vancouver Island but I knew I wanted to experience the pleasure of apple picking again.

We were just recently in New Brunswick and passing through the Cocagne area. We came upon the “Verger Goguen” and they were open. “STOP THE CAR! I can’t pass this up, we have to pick apples!” I exclaimed.


Verger Goguen and Farm Produce

Tina and Armand gave us a basket and told us the varieties available and where to pick. I have my favorites, Gravenstein for cooking and Macintosh for eating. Since the above mentioned were not quite ripe, Melba’s were recommended for both.


Weighing apples with Tina and Armand

It didn’t take long to pick a 28lb basket. The trees were overflowing with apples. Most were easily reached from the ground but those at the top were red and appealing. How close can I get that ladder to reach the cream of the crop?


In the orchard

Since I can’t bring these home, I have been giving them to family and friends. But not before making 2 delicious pies for a family dinner of 11.  And true to Armand’s word, the Melba’s made excellent tasty pies.


Apple Pies

#30 – Mystery Thing: A Tour Down Memory Lane

NB MapWe are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this year and decided to take a tour down memory lane and visit the province of New Brunswick as a side trip while at the cottage in Nova Scotia.

It started by driving the back roads of New Brunswick through the small village of Memramcook. My husband persevered a 9 month French emersion course as part of his job requirement back in the late 80’s. The place hasn’t changed and remains the small quaint village it was back then.

Saint John was our first destination, my husbands’ hometown. The highlight here was playing golf with his brother and sister and 2 close friends at the Riverside Country Club in Rothesay, NB. This is a private club but they welcomed us with open arms because of strong family connections with the club. My husband’s parents were members there for many years and his Dad served a term as president. I remember playing a round of golf here with my father–in-law. His approach to golf was simple; hit straight down the fairway off the tee, followed by a great second shot, chip shot close to the hole, then sink the putt. Easy! On this day, we enjoyed the most brilliant sunshine and the view of the Kennebecassis River. The golf was????, the day was glorious. We stayed at an excellent B&B called “Shadow Lawn” and enjoyed the most amazing meal at their restaurant the “Robertson’s”. The visit to Saint John would not have been complete without a drive past the old homestead and a browse through the City Market.

Saint John

Riverside Golf Course overlooking the Kennebecassis River, Dinner at “Robertson’s”, Saint John City Market

From Saint John, we proceeded to St. Andrews NB. This is where we met. We were both working for the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Walking down Main Street, I recollected when he asked me, “Do you own a “Homeownership Plan”?” Not wanting to sound ill informed, I said, “Yes, I am working on it”. I called my parents later that day and asked what a “Homeownership” was. My Dad asked me, “Who asked you that?” I told him, “This guy I met.” He replied, “Marry him”.

St. Andrews

Downtown St. Andrews, St. Andrews Blockhouse National Historical Site

From St. Andrews, we visited my sister in Fredericton. My sister loves having family and you can’t drive by Fredericton without stopping in. We also had a chance to visit with an elderly aunt on my father’s side. I went to UNB here and got my BSc degree in Computer Science. I just had to take a peak. The university has changed with new buildings and ever growing facilities while the city gets bigger.


UNB Campus – Photo courtesy of UNB Fredericton

The trip continued from the South end of the province to the North end into Caraquet NB, where I grew up. My oldest brother managed to get 4 of us together for a family dinner. The only one missing was my youngest sister. My family talks loud at gatherings. The voice decibels rise as the evening progresses, amidst the laughs and reminiscing on the good old days. Especially our father’s adventures that always had a funny story behind them. A visit to Caraquet most often includes a great “Pâté à la Râpure” dinner. Close friends hosted and we were not disappointed.  In case you missed that post read #43 –Acadian Dinner – Pâté à la Râpure. It’s been 6 years since I’ve been home and so much has changed especially the homesteads of my grandparents, Tante Joséphine and our home. Trying to squeeze all that I wanted to see and do in a period of 48 hours was impossible.


Grandparents, Tante Joséphine, My Home – Photos by PHendry

We proceeded to Moncton NB. We lived in Moncton and Riverview for a total of 6 years. In Barachois, we visited my favorite cousin. We are the same age and have lots in common. She and I enjoy good wine and have been known to make a dent in her husband’s best Cognac.

Giant Lobster

Giant Lobster in Shédiac NB en route to Barachois

A final side trip across the Confederation Bridge to PEI to visit an old school chum rounded up the trip.

Confederation Bridge

Confederation Bridge – Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

After a week on the road, we returned to the cottage. It was one of the best road trips we have done in awhile. The memories, the laughs, catching up with friends and the many changes in each place along the way was well worth the ~1,500 km put on the rental car. I’m grateful for Skype and FaceTime but there is nothing better then being with loved ones in person.



#50 – Call in on “CBC Radio Noon” Show

Have you ever tried to call in on a radio show, tried to be the 8th caller or tried to qualify for a contest? I just wanted to be part of something simple and call the “CBC Radio Noon” show and partake in the question and answer period on whatever topic was presented on that particular day.

I learned it was not the easiest thing to do. I have been working on this for sometime now. If the line is busy, you are out of luck. Others have beaten you to it. Sometimes you get through but you are not guaranteed of making the broadcast because they have run out of time. The other issue is that you don’t always want to call because the topic of the day may be of no interest to you.


Elizabeth Pierce’s book available on Amazon

We were driving along the Sunrise Trail, the start of our New Brunswick tour, and listening to the “CBC Maritime Noon” show. This is the East Coast equivalent of the Radio Noon show on the West Coast. The host, Norma Lea McLeod had a guest host, Elizabeth Pierce who has just published her book “You Can Too – Canning, Pickling and Preserving the Maritime Harvest”.

After listening to the show for a half an hour and most questions related to tomatoes I told my husband I was going to try and call. “What will your question be?” he asked. “I don’t know, I’ll think of something”. I called the 1 -800 number and to my surprise my call was answered.

The host introduced me, “Charline, driving along Tatamagouche, is on the line with a question about preserving. What would you like to ask Elizabeth, Charline?”

“Hi. My father used to make Herbes Salées, have you heard of it?” I asked.

“No”, she said, “What is it?”

“I remembered a mason jar of green onions in the fridge. They were salted and pickled somehow but I can’t remember exactly how it was prepared”.

“What was it used for?” Elizabeth asked.

“My Dad used it in soups, chowders and when making fish stews. It added so much flavor in the cooking”.

“When I get home, I will have to look through my France cookbooks to see if I can find a recipe. This intrigues me. I hope I can get in touch with you if I find anything of interest”, she replied.

After our conversation, a few more callers came through and knew exactly what I was talking about and how it was prepared.



Vivian from Clare, a French Village in southwest Nova Scotia, said that it was a known pickling tradition with Acadians and used in soups and chowders. Basically it was cut up green onions layered with lots of salt and placed into mason jars. It would keep in the fridge for up to a year. Another gentlemen sent in an email and confirmed the same thing. Elizabeth was delighted and hoped that I was still listening. Of course I was!

As we drove, I received an email from a friend at the cottage who had heard me on the show. Her comment was that she was no expert but she knew how to google and sent me a link! I have since found other Acadians and fellow bloggers who have posted the recipe. I was pretty pleased with the interaction my call generated and as soon as I get home, I’m going to make a jar or two.

#60 – Enjoy a Bottle of Wine on a Beach

I never imagined that the beach I would enjoy a bottle of wine on would be at Melmerby Beach. You see, we live on Canada’s West Coast and Melmerby Beach is on the East Coast.


Melmerby Beach, New Glasgow Nova Scotia

Melmerby Beach was our summer stomping grounds. My husband grew up there as a kid and our kids followed suit until we moved when they were teenagers.

The “Melmerby” was a tragic story. In 1890, the “Melmerby”, a double masted square rigged sailing vessel, 207 feet in length carrying a cargo of white pine timber destined from Quebec to Scotland, encountered a severe weather storm. It perished to the seas and winds off the shores of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Locals formed a human chain to salvage 16 mariners attempting to get to shore. All but one person perished.


The Wreck of the Melmerby – October 12, 1890

Melmerby Beach was named for this vessel, and the beach celebrated its 125th anniversary this year. I’m proud to say that my brother-in-law has kept the memory alive and organized a commemorative ceremony to celebrate the anniversary on the history of how the beach got its name.

The beach is ever changing. Winds bring in sands one day, stones the next, surf, waves then calm. On this day, the weather was warm, seas calm, water inviting. The resident cottage-goers were enjoying the beach with many kids playing and enjoying the last of summer on this Labor Day weekend prior to returning to the fall schedule of school and back to work.

I am enjoying this bottle of wine with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. Cheers to both of them because they have been a godsend in keeping our cottage in good shape. Who better than the two of them to enjoy a bottle of wine with.




#26 – Go on a Picnic

I’m sure when someone says the word “picnic” a vision of what that is, comes to mind. The word “Pique Nique” is a 17th – century French word and simply means a meal where everyone brings food and eats outdoors.


I love picnics on a camping trip, out on a boat, being in a field or on a picnic table at some rest stop. Somehow food just tastes better. My Mom always had a roasted chicken on her picnics, especially on the many summer road trips we took from Ontario to New Brunswick. I would love to crash an “al fresco” someday, anywhere in Italy. That would be the ultimate picnic.

I’m settling for the next best thing. A picnic with our close friends from the “Merb” on “Large Marge the Party Barge” in Moon Cove at Merigomish Harbour.

The Barge

Large Marge the Party Barge

After a pleasant “randonnée” in the different coves, Black Hall Gut, Moon Cove, Quarry Island, we settled for our picnic. The sun was shining, the food was scrumptious, the beer was cold, and the water inviting.

Picnic Food

We eventually rafted with other friends on their sailboat and motorboat. These kids, who are now grown up into beautiful young adults were our kids’ best friends. And age for them does not matter as long as everyone is having a good time.